Students of the University of Benin have continued with their protest for the second day to air their grievances against a recent decision of the school authorities to impose an additional N20,000 for late registration.
Following the increment, the aggrieved students had stormed the Benin-Lagos expressway in protest on Tuesday, causing gridlock on the ever-busy federal road.
They also ignored the call by the management of the school for all students to vacate the campus as the Students Union Government (SUG) is reported to have blocked the school’s entrance preventing the students from leaving the premises.
The institution’s management had ordered all students to vacate their hostels and the campus no later than 12 noon on Wednesday following what they considered to be security concerns after they (students) blocked the main gate of the school in protest.
Speaking to Channels Television, a student asked the institution’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lilian Salami to consider their plight and reverse the decision.
“We came out today and we are telling you that we want you to take this fee back to normal,” he said.
“What we want, you know it. Take the school fees back to normal,” he said amid support from other students.
Another student of the school asked for kind consideration from the school authorities, insisting that things are tough.
She said, “It is anti-student. We all know what the situation of the economy in the country is. It is not easy for anybody, including our parents. All we are asking from our Vice-Chancellor is to be lenient with us.
“It is not as if we are not going to pay, we are going to pay. There is no money anywhere; we are struggling to feed in school.”
Meanwhile, on arriving at the Ugbowo campus of the institution, Channels Television observed that a student had collapsed from an epileptic seizure while protesting.
It was not business as usual on Wednesday in Edo State as civil servants who failed to show a COVID-19 Vaccination card were barred from entering their offices.
This followed the announcement by the State Government on Tuesday that it will begin enforcing the ‘no-vaccination-no-work’ policy.
“We have trained special teams and these special teams will be spread across the 18 local governments of Edo State.
“What we are going to do tomorrow is to allow those who have the authentic vaccination card, access to their government working places and those without, can go back and work from home and government will know how to deal with that,” the Head of the COVID-19 Enforcement Team in the state, Haruna Yusuf, said at a briefing on Tuesday.
This comes amid speculations that the state government is working towards making vaccination compulsory for all residents.
However, Governor Godwin Obaseki in a statement last week described the reports as an “obvious misconception”.
He had given residents up to the second week of September to get a vaccine or risk being barred from public places such as banks, receptions, churches and mosques.
So far, Edo State has recorded 6,008 COVID-19 cases.
It has also recorded the second-highest death toll in the country (215) – justifying talks about the ‘compulsory vaccination’, as part of measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Below is a breakdown of the COVID-19 cases across Nigeria.
The Edo State Government has announced that from Wednesday, September 15, all civil servants who are yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be barred from entering their offices.
The Head of the COVID-19 Enforcement Team in the state, Haruna Yusuf, disclosed this at a press briefing on Tuesday.
“We have trained special teams and these special teams will be spread across the 18 local governments of Edo State.
“What we are going to do tomorrow is to allow those who have the authentic vaccination card, access to their government working places and those without, can go back and work from home and government will know how to deal with that,” Yusuf said.
The Edo State Government has cleared the air over what it described as the “purported compulsory vaccination” of its residents with the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a statement signed on Wednesday, Governor Godwin Obaseki said it was an “obvious misconception” that the directive issued by the government was to make vaccination compulsory for all citizens.
Governor Obaseki had given residents up to the second week of September to get a vaccine or risk being barred from public places such as banks, receptions, churches and mosques.
But in Wednesday’s statement, the governor said the order which was given last Friday was, at best, speculative and pre-emptive as the scheduled date for the commencement of the enforcement of the directive by the state government is the second week of September.
He said this in reaction to an order by a High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, directing the Government to maintain the status quo on the purported compulsory vaccination.
Governor Obaseki said: “Although the State Governor, in truth, has the power to make such an order under the Gazetted Quarantine Regulations, this directive is actually only a denial of access to public places of persons who chose not to be vaccinated.
“We believe government’s overriding concern is the safety and health of its citizens”.
The government’s intervention comes as Nigeria experiences a fresh spike in infections, and Edo becomes one of the top affected states.
The governor said Edo State is currently confronted with a situation wherein the Case Positivity Rate (CPR) for COVID-19 hovers between 15 and 25 per cent.
According to him, unvaccinated persons have accounted for 100 per cent of deaths in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
“Government, therefore, finds it strange that some persons in purported pursuit of their fundamental human rights would embark on litigation tourism outside of our state, seek to become a source of public health danger and put at risk the safety and health of the larger population,” the statement read in part.
“Government owes a sacred duty to the populace to take all actions necessary to protect the health of the majority of the citizens and in this connection, an even greater quantity of vaccines is being secured for the use of the people of Edo State.
“The Edo State Government has, therefore, instructed its lawyers to vigorously pursue and challenge all such orders in the courts from where they emanate and if necessary, at the appellate level, while affirming its position as a law-abiding government.
“It must be made clear that Government shall continue to pursue all legal and administrative options available for the protection of the best interest of the good people of Edo State”.
Two states, Edo and Ondo, are trying to introduce COVID-19 vaccine passes for access to public places and gatherings, in a bid to increase vaccination rates.
Health passes or vaccine passports, required for entry to places like restaurants, gyms and cinemas, are already in place in some European countries though they have triggered protests in France, Greece and Italy as unfair to the unvaccinated.
Introducing similar measures in Nigeria will be complicated in a country that has received less than 10 million vaccines for a population of more than 210 million people.
Southern Nigeria Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki last week gave residents up to the second week of September to get a vaccine or risk being barred from some places, including banks, receptions, churches and mosques.
“We have made adequate arrangements with security agencies to prevent anybody who doesn’t have vaccination cards from accessing any of these places,” Obaseki said.
Nigerians have so far been hesitant about taking the vaccine. As of Monday, only 2.8 million people had received a first dose, according to the agency in charge of the roll-out, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.
“We would like to encourage governors to continue to provide leadership in the mobilisation of citizens to prioritise the acceptance of COVID-19 vaccine,” NPHCDA director Faisal Shuaib said.
“We are particularly enthused by the example shown by the Governor of Edo State,” he added.
Another state in southern Nigeria, Ondo, has also given residents two weeks to take the shots.
“Evidence of vaccination will be the condition to access public places, churches, mosques,” information commissioner Donald Ojogo told local media.
He won many musical awards both nationally and internationally.
His stagecraft and music prowess left millions of his fans in awe throughout his career.
He will be remembered for hit songs like ‘Mami Water’, ‘Joromi’ and ‘Guitar Boy’.
Watch one of our interviews with the late Uwaifo:
He was the first professional musician to be awarded the National Merit Honours of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON).
Uwaifo served as Commissioner for Arts and Culture in Edo State between 2001 and 2003.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has condoled with the family and friends of the legendary musician.
In a statement signed by presidential spokesman Femi Adesina, the President said the entire country will miss him.
“President Muhammadu Buhari condoles with family, friends and associates of legendary musician and multi-talented artiste, Sir Victor Uwaifo, who passed on Saturday, leaving a legacy of successes in many areas of life, including academia and administration,” the statement said.
“The President joins the Nigerian music industry and performing artistes, home and abroad, in mourning the former first Honourable Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism (Edo State), who was also the first musician and instrumentalist to be given National Honours Merit, Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) in 1983.
“President Buhari believes the renowned musician, with global appeal and recognitions, lived for many firsts, which include invitation to the State House by four presidents and Heads of State, and winner of a gold disc in Africa for his song, ‘Joromi’, released in 1965 at the age of 24.
“The President notes the glory that Sir Uwaifo brought to Nigeria through his international tours, and the active role he played in national development, returning to school to get a first degree at age 54 with first class honours, masters degree at 56, and a doctorate at 77.
“President Buhari prays for the soul of the departed musician, writer, sculptor, musical instrument inventor and university lecturer, knowing the entire country, particularly the music industry, will sorely miss him.”
Osaze Osemwingie-Ero, a former Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, has cried out regarding the plight of over 300 Nigerian youths ‘illegally’ detained in Italian prisons for contrived charges on mafia-related offences.
At a meeting with officials of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mr Osemwingie-Ero disclosed that he learned about the plight of the innocent young Nigerians during his wrongful detention in Italy.
According to the former commissioner, the young Nigerians are held in Italian maximum prisons because they do not have the resources to access an independent lawyer.
He said the prosecutors in Italy were manipulating the justice system against Nigerians, adding that it became clear to him that “he was a victim of racial discrimination, and manipulation of the Italian Justice System by a very corrupt prosecutor – Dr Stephano Casano”.
Narrating briefly his ordeal in Italy, Osemwingie-Ero said when he interviewed other Nigerians who were incarcerated for charges similar to those levelled against him, it was discovered that a certain ‘Green Bible’ and forged papers that were brought up as evidence against the commissioner, was the same evidence put forward against the others in custody.
When in 2019, Osemwingie-Ero was getting aboard a connecting flight from Amsterdam to Germany, he could never have known that his brief trip would become an odyssey of 18 months in an Italian prison, for a crime he knew nothing about.
He was to meet with Yusuf Tuggar, the then Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, and the business was simply – the Benin Artifacts Campaign.
At the airport, security operatives picked him up, and swiftly, he was accused of being a member of what the Italian prosecutors called the ‘Nigerian Mafia’.
Article 416 Bis of the Italian Criminal Code outlines what a Mafia-type organization is and the punishment for perpetrators of these kinds of crimes. According to the former commissioner, it is upon article 416 that many Nigerians are being detained in Italy, with no solid evidence of any crime committed.
Enters then a forged manual called the Green Bible.
Osemwingie-Ero said in a bid to add flesh to their accusations, the Italians produced in court, an evidence known as the Green Bible, which has been used to convict many Nigerians, especially those who had no qualitative legal representation.
“I decided to do the long trial, where the prosecutor was compelled to bring the evidence that he had against me or against the Nigerian association. Only for him to produce a forge manual that he called the Green Bible, which they have used to convict a lot of Nigerians over 200 Nigerians in Italy,” Osemwingie-Ero narrated.
He and his lawyers thoroughly went through the Green Bible and discovered myriads of discrepancies.
“For example, page 14 of that so called Green Bible, paragraph 3 stated that ‘we the criminal organization’ involve in A-Z were there; and I told the judge that I have never seen an organization that will write in their manual that they are a criminal organization.
“On page 31, 32 and 33 of that so called Green Bible, we have a 2017 event of the communique of the Green Circuit Association in Asaba in that book while on page 51 of that so called Green Bible, it said this book was written in 1978 by University of Benin students and I said, how can we have a communique of 2017 event inside a book that was written in 1978,” the former commissioner pointed out.
Mr Osemwingie-Ero called for the collaboration of all stakeholders including the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and the media, among others to ensure the release of Nigerians unjustly detained in Italy, some of them facing up to 140years in prison.
“While I was there on the 28th of October, 70 Nigerians were arrested for the same Mafia related offences and the only thing they showed on the television was a kitchen knife as a proof of evidence. Meanwhile, they still use this article 416 bis of the Italian Mafia Criminal Code.
“On the 26th of September while I was still in prison, 20 Nigerians were convicted and sentenced to 140years in prison, they were convicted with this same forged Green Bible, I have a copy of it, this same Green Bible was what they used, and if you google Torino Chronicle of September 26, 2020 (page 8), you will see it there clearly.
“Their appeal is coming up on the 20th of September this year, after two years in prison, maximum security in Italy. The 70 Nigerians that were arrested, their trial is starting on the 17th of September this year as well.
“I am aware because I kept interacting with them, knowing more about the case before I was released on the 29th of May.”
According to him, his release was by God’s grace, adding that it cost him a lot of money to get good legal representation which these other Nigerians do not have at the moment.
Osemwingie-Ero who said he made a promise that he was going to create awareness for the release of those innocent Nigerians, expressed disappointment in ‘the fact’ that he did not get the support that he expected from the Nigerian government.
He explained that his then boss Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State called the Minister of Foreign Affairs to notify him of the Commissioner’s arrest and nothing was done to follow up the case.
“If that could happen to me, you can imagine the fate of ordinary Nigerians?” Osemwingie-Ero asked.
Turning the focus away from his plight in Italy, the former commissioner told the Chairman/CEO of NIDCOM, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, that he had come to notify the Commission of the predicaments of those Nigerians languishing in prison, held under article 416 bis of the Italian Mafia Criminal Code without any single evidence of those crimes committed.
On the next step of his advocacy, Osemwingie-Ero said he alongside his friends and family members will hold a protest next week, in front of the Italian Embassy, to let the world know “of the injustice that is being meted on us and those innocent Nigerians in prison”.
‘We will take it up’
In reaction to the ordeal he had narrated, Hon Dabiri-Erewa commiserated with the former Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs.
The NIDCOM CEO while emphasizing that key thing at the moment is the plight of Nigerians who the commissioner met in the Italian prison, explained that the first step would be to take up the case with the Attorney General’s office, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ms. Dabiri-Erewa said there are many cases of this nature that the AGF, Abubakar Malami handles, and that this case will be treated with the urgency that it deserves.
“Indeed if there are so many Nigerians in Italian prisons languishing for years, for an offence (they told you and you interacted with them) that they did not commit, we can’t just watch and see that happen.”
According to the NIDCOM Chairman, the Commission will be thorough about the case, adding that every legal avenue will be explored.
The Edo State Government has unveiled plans to recruit and train over 10,000 local security personnel in the state to complement the efforts of the federal security agents in tackling insecurity.
Governor Godwin Obaseki disclosed this on Wednesday during an inspection of the Police Training Facility at Ogida Police Barracks in Benin City, the state capital.
He said his administration is collaborating with the Nigerian Police Force to build a world-class facility that would help in the training of officials of the state’s Vigilante Security Network, the state’s Constabulary, members of the Public Work Volunteer (PUWOV) and other outfits, to maintain law and order.
“We are collaborating with the Nigerian Police Force to improve the training facilities at the Ogida Police Barrack Training School. We are rebuilding and upgrading the classrooms, hostels, halls, and drill facilities,” the governor said.
“The purpose of this collaboration is to train members of our vigilante group with modern policing and intelligence gathering skills. Also, the constabulary corps and our Public Work Volunteer (PUWOV) will be trained at the facility.
“The whole idea is for us to be able to complement the Federal Security system with a force of not less than 10,000 men and women to guarantee peace, security and order in the state.”
Obaseki said the facility would have been ready except for the amount of rainfall witnessed this year which according to him, has slowed down the pace of work.
“Within the next 30 to 45 days, all of the improvement would have been completed,” Obaseki said.
On his part, the Edo State Police Commissioner, Philip Ogbadu, commended the state’s vigilante group for the synergy with the police, noting that the partnership has resulted in improved security across the state.
“The vigilante groups are segmented into areas and work with the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs); they are familiar with the areas; they go ahead and the police support them. There is good synergy between the vigilante and the police,” Ogbadu said.
“They have the power to arrest and hand over to the police. They have performed creditably well; that’s why we are bringing them here to get more training and to know their limit, operational guidelines, rules of engagement and other things needed to ensure they succeed”.
The Edo State Government has praised the outstanding performance of Olympics 100m athlete, Enoch Adegoke, who took part in the final 100m track event in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.
Edo State Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu who addressed journalists in Benin City on Sunday noted that if not for the bad luck that hit the athlete, he was on the path to claiming a medal for Nigeria at the event.
Shaibu said despite the outcome of the race in the final, the Edo State Government will give Adegoke a red-carpet reception when he returns to the country as he is a worthy ambassador of the state.
“Edo people are very proud of the performance of Enoch Adegoke. He was a medal hopeful until that muscle pull. The incident in the final was unfortunate as his takeoff was very good just about 40 to 50 meters before the bad luck in the game caught up with him. We will celebrate with him,” the Deputy Governor said.
“Our focus is to bring him back home as our ambassador and prepare him for other future activities and also check his medical condition to ensure in future events he doesn’t suffer such ill luck.”
He added that lack of preparation has a lot of impact on the performance of Nigerian athletes which include Enoch Adegoke as they all depended on the goodwill of spirited Nigerians to embark on their training, noting that Edo State also gave their support.
“Nigeria is at this level today because we have reduced sports to politics. We are proud of Enoch Adegoke who made us proud in Tokyo following his outstanding performance in the race until the muscle pull stole the show from him in the final of the 100m mens’ final,” Shaibu added.
The Edo State Police Command on Friday through Divisional Police Officer Agbede Division, CSP Iredia Ogiata received information that there is an ongoing shooting at Ama Community.
On receipt of the information, the DPO swiftly mobilized police operatives from the Division to the scene of the incident.
Upon arrival, a preliminary investigation revealed that one John Ebatame (‘M’) and Moses Okoyomon (‘M’) were said to have used a double-barrel gun to shoot at six persons in the community during a burial ceremony of one late Martina Rabi (‘F’).
The investigation further revealed that John and Moses followed the corpse from Ubiaja in Esan South-East LGA to be buried in Ama Community. John is said to be a hunter in Ubiaja, Esan South East LGA followed them from Ubiaja to the area where he fired gunshots into the air which resulted in the cutting-off of the community electricity cable.
The Youths of Ama Community on noticing that he has destroyed their electricity cable confronted him immediately, in the cause of the argument, John threatened to shoot at them which he eventually did that resulted in injuring five persons namely; Mathew Enebor (‘M’) Sule Kadiri (‘M’), Christian Okpoke (‘M’), Momodu Ambrose (‘M’) and Ibadan Okhere (‘M’) and one other whose name is unknown at this time.
The injured persons are currently receiving treatment at Irrua specialist teaching hospital. The following exhibit recovered from them, “one double-barrel gun and seven (7) expended cartridges”.
The Commissioner of Police Edo State, CP Phillip Aliyu Ogbadu in a press statement on Sunday warned that no matter how highly placed an individual may be in the society if they commit an offence or threaten the life of another person(s), they will be made to face the wrath of the law.
He enjoined the good people of Ama Community not to take laws into their hands as an investigation into the incident has since commenced.
The police chief also noted that under his watch the Force will not tolerate any act of lawlessness. He called on the good people Edo state to continue to furnish the police with credible information at any time so as forestall any breakdown of law and order.
Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has directed wards and local government areas in the state to submit names to be nominated as members of his cabinet, seven months after his inauguration.
Addressing state house correspondents on Wednesday after a meeting with the chief of staff to the president, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Governor Obaseki explained that he delayed in naming members of his cabinet because of the restructuring of the state civil service in order to make it more efficient.
He said having restructured the civil service and introduced technology, he is now ready for the political class to give the needed political direction to the administration.
Meanwhile, the governor also discussed the return of the stolen Benin artifacts with the Chief of Staff.
He revealed plans to set up a Museum in the state, which according to him, after completion would be a major tourist attraction and revenue spinner.